— Molly Lipovsky Morgan, E.S. Teacher Cert. ’08
Sustainability is at the core of AUNE’s mission. We view our sustainability challenge as how we meet the needs of the present in a socially just and economically sensible manner without jeopardizing the ability of future generations to do the same.
The Sustainability and Social Justice (SSJ) Committee plays a key role in supporting AUNE’s efforts to be a responsible environmental steward and a model for other universities in the region by assessing and reducing AUNE’s contribution to the problem of global warming. In December 2006, we formed a Task Force within the SSJ Committee: the Energy and Climate Action Task Force. The task force’s mission was to assess AUNE’s greenhouse gas emissions, set a target for reducing them, and figure out the steps to take in order to meet that target. The Task Force concluded its work in August 2007, and based upon its work, AUNE has set a formal target of achieving carbon neutrality by the year 2020. Since that time, the school has been implementing the action steps in the Task Force’s initial plan to work toward that goal. In 2010, AUNE completed work on its Climate Action Plan, an official campus-approved 10-year road map to achieving carbon neutrality by the year 2020. The plan includes the goals & action steps recommended by AUNE’s Carbon Neutrality Task Force (CNTF), a stellar group of AUNE alumni, students, faculty, staff, administrators and external experts.
Our mission has been strengthened by AUNE’s Memorandum of Understanding with Clean Air-Cool Planet and AUNE president David Caruso’s pledge to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. Both agreements commit AUNE to reduce its carbon impact.
Our goal is to help AUNE achieve carbon neutrality by the year 2020. What does it mean to be carbon neutral? At a very basic level, that means that we either no longer rely on, or are offsetting the impact of, carbon dioxide-spewing fossil fuel-based sources of energy for our electricity (which includes our air conditioning each summer), our heat in winter, and our business and academic travel.
Our approach covers these four action areas:
- Conservation- Awareness-raising and education efforts; green-building policies; master planning; purchasing and computing policies. See the Carbon Counts: You Can Too Speaker Series page for past and upcoming events.As part of our efforts aimed at increasing conservation, we have launched the Carbon Counts: You Can Too education and action campaign. This campaign includes regular educational outreach about how to reduce carbon emissions. A first step was implementation, around campus, of “Flip Me Off,” a low-tech sign campaign urging building users to turn off the lights when finished using a room. Why do we care? Because if the lights in one classroom at AUNE are on for 12 hours a day for 5 days, they account for the emission of roughly 120 pounds of CO2 per week. That’s one classroom! Our campaign is focused on helping AUNE to lose that CO2 weight.We also offer everyone at AUNE opportunities to learn more and to take action through our “Carbon Counts: You Can Too” lunch-time series featuring our own in-house experts. See right sidebar for complete list of topics.
- Efficiency - As a first step, AUNE has installed light sensors in our campus bathrooms to reduce energy use, and carbon emissions that come from the generation of that energy, when the rooms are not in use. AUNE’s other efficiency initiatives include conducting an energy audit to assess the benefits of building retrofits (lighting, windows, insulation); Energy Star appliance/computer procurement; and potentially upgrading heating equipment.
- Carbon Offsets Purchasing - As AUNE works to reduce its energy loads & associated greenhouse gas emissions, we are planning to offset the remaining emissions through the purchase of carbon offsets.
- Renewable Energy - AUNE has explored the cost and benefits of switching to wood, ground source heat pumps, and photovoltaic panels as sources of meeting our thermal and electrical needs. As AUNE decides on its future physical plant needs, we will be working to assist in making our campus compatible with green building standards.